Thursday, December 18, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Winter's Tale

2014, Akiva Goldsman (writer A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend) -- download

This is Goldsman's first movie as director, based on a 1983 novel, and also called A New York Winter's Tale. It is a movie about magic, love and destiny. This is urban fantasy, something in my wheelhouse as they say, and I think is going to be my word of the season. But its not just that, it also takes place in a world that is only very subtly different than our own but still very very much not our world. Does that make sense? Its concerns a term called 'magical realism'. Magic is very real in the world of this movie, but it doesn't play out big. The average person still does not believe in it, see it or acknowledge its existence. And there are fine details to the movie that state very clearly, this is not our world.

Colin Farrell is Peter Lake, an Edwardian street thief on the run from the crime boss Pearly Soames. Soames is not exactly a man, but not fully a demon. Peter stumbles into the house of Beverly Penn, who suffers from a magical form of consumption. I say magical because a symptom is that she runs too hot -- she needs to be kept unnaturally cool and spends her winter nights sleep in an open penthouse pavilion in a sheer gown. Beverly is going to die, it is known and accepted, but despite this they fall in love. And she does die. Her death throws Peter out of his mind to wander NY, lacking any memories of who he was, for decades. He returns to defeat Pearly and find his place in the stars.

The first act of the movie, and I only truly see two clear demarcations in this movie, is what I fell for. Pearly Soames with his scars and imposing figure, only missing a curl of sulphurous smoke from one nostril, was quite the villain. Russell Crowe does a great job. Jessica Brown Findlay as Beverly is ethereal and utterly stunning, in this weird generic British young actress way that I am attracted to. Even with my ability to recognize people, I am constantly mixing her, Lucy Griffiths and Michelle Ryan up. Colin is passable as the hero, even with the annoying undercut haircut. But the latter half of the movie, set in current day, just fades out for me. It seemed tagged on, as if Goldsman really likes the first part of the novel and you could see his love embedded, but didn't put as much passion into this part. Its just not as magical, for me.